By Liam Napier in Dublin

As Kiwis, we naturally tend to attribute Ireland's recent success to one of our own — Joe Schmidt.

The man who cut his coaching teeth in the Bay of Plenty — and who is expected to return home after next year's World Cup — certainly deserves credit for leading Ireland's rise to their lofty status of challenging for the mantle of world's best.

Few could begrudge Schmidt's 74.2 per cent win record since 2013 and, of course, Ireland's maiden win over the All Blacks in that time.


Schmidt's "you are what you repeatedly do" motto; his intense attention to detail, high standards and creativity; and a relentless work ethic are hallmarks of his reign.

From an on-field perspective, Schmidt's obvious contributions come from various set moves — like the one he conjured for injured second five-eighth Robbie Henshaw to crash over from a scrum in Chicago in 2016.

Read more: Richie McCaw tips Joe Schmidt to be Steve Hansen's All Blacks successor

As Beauden Barrett notes, planning for such instances is difficult.

"When you lose in an All Black jersey it's never nice," Barrett said. "We can draw from those experiences as a small reminder of how we felt in that changing room and to always respect Ireland.

"We also know they're a smart team. They'll throw a few things at us that we haven't seen before. They plan well and they're very creative. That gets us in a good mental spot for this coming week and whenever we're going to play them in the future."

There is, however, much more to Ireland's rise than meets the eye.

Andy Farrell, former All Blacks prop Greg Feek and Irish flanker Simon Easterby continue to play key roles in Schmidt's management team.

Behind the scenes, former Wallabies hooker and Blues coach David Nucifora, Ireland's high-powered performance director since 2014, has also been instrumental in leading the push to implement a similar player-management model at club level to New Zealand.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo / Getty
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo / Getty

Not always a popular figure, Nucifora is often charged with making the tough decisions.

Read more: Why everyone wants Joe Schmidt

The influence of Stuart Lancaster, the axed England coach who helped guide Leinster, a team containing Tadhg Furlong, Rob Kearney, James Ryan, Henshaw and Sexton among other leading figures, to European glory last year also cannot be overlooked.

Feek and Easterby oversee Ireland's forward pack which, other than last week's misfiring effort at the lineout against the Pumas, consistently delivers dominant platforms that allow world-class halves Conor Murray, absent this week, and Johnny Sexton to shine.

"However that coaching group works, it works really well," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster observed. "It is always a team effort. I'm sure Joe would say the same thing. Those guys have been there for a long time so they're a pretty solid group.

"They've brought a bit of success and gone about it in a way it looks like the team has a lot of belief in what they are doing but, fundamentally, they've got good values and good people."

Farrell, father to English first five-eighth Owen, is particularly relevant this week given he led the rush defence adopted by the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand last year.

Across his time with England, Ireland and the Lions, Farrell has savoured three wins against the All Blacks.

As an interesting aside, Farrell and Lancaster were today touted as potential dual successors should Schmidt, indeed, return home after Japan.

Ireland have always defended with passion but Farrell's success has been to add much more accuracy to their line speed in particular.

It's an area which will, once again, test Barrett's ability to adapt his game.

"I don't know the head coach too well but I've played against Farrell before and his defences. I know him personally as well as Feek," Barrett said. "It shows in their game. You've seen it come on in recent years.

"What I see is a dominant forward pack and they are well organised around the park. It seems like they get the small details in their game right; they are very structured and they've got good skills to run with ball in hand.

"We can always learn from our previous experiences but even what we've seen recently isn't the same Irish defences as we've seen in the past. They're always changing and evolving. We just have to treat this week on its own."

Recent results of this formidable coaching team include the last Six Nations crown and 10 straight test wins at home.

The last side to beat them in Dublin was, you guessed it, the All Blacks.